National Survey Shows Many Unaware That Coughing Can Spread Disease


MADISON, N.J. -- Americans will leave business meetings, skip social gatherings and forfeit a good night's sleep because of coughs, according to a national survey released today by Wyeth Consumer Healthcare, a division of Wyeth. Surprisingly, many people are also unaware that coughing can spread serious illnesses, like the flu and bronchitis. Despite the impact of coughs, most people say they do not take their coughs seriously and will "tough it out" instead of treating it. The primary barrier to treatment, according to survey participants, is convenience.

Most people (73 percent) know that a common cold can spread by coughing. Far fewer people recognize that more serious illnesses -- such as the flu (57 percent) and bronchitis (27 percent) -- can also spread through coughing. In reality, the flu and bronchitis are spread more often through coughing than sneezing. However, most people (71 percent) consider their average cough to be simply a mild problem or annoyance, and seek treatment either rarely or not at all. By not taking their cough seriously, these people are likely spreading their infection to others.

"This survey shows that people often underestimate the role coughs play in disease transmission," says Dr. Suman Wason of Wyeth Consumer Healthcare. "If a person remembers to cover their mouth and immediately wash their hands after they cough, the potential of transmission would be minimized. But in reality, one person's 'minor inconvenience' may actually infect others around them."

The workplace is a common place for germs to spread because people are confined to closed spaces. The survey showed that coughs in the workplace can impact an employee's performance in certain situations. For example, four out of 10 people (41 percent) will leave a meeting rather than cough through it. Interestingly, respondents report that coughs are disruptive to them even when someone else is coughing. Less than one in four people (23 percent) surveyed can ignore the chronic cough of a co-worker; 34 percent say that it disrupts their work.

One in three people (36 percent) believe that they have gotten sick because of a coughing co-worker yet when they themselves have a cough, 45 percent will do nothing and continue working. Most people (61 percent) are not using cough syrup at work because it is inconvenient. In fact, only 20 percent of people say they would use cough syrup at work to treat their cough, while the vast majority (78 percent) say they would use candy, a hot or cold beverage, bottled water or nothing.

Other key survey findings:

* Six out of ten people will tough it out instead of treating their

cough, even though many experience difficulty sleeping and hoarseness

when they cough for an extended period of time.

* Most people have had a cough ruin a good night's sleep, and nearly

half say that their cough has ruined a good night's sleep for

someone else in their home.

* While the majority of people say that they don't think coughing is

rude, 35 percent will avoid social situations when they are coughing

even if they feel okay.

* More than half of all people are concerned about getting sick when

others cough near them.

This survey was conducted by Braun Research, Inc. and was sponsored by new Robitussin CoughGels.

Source: Wyeth Consumer Healthcare

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